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Recycling’s way forward?

Whether it’s a diehard conservationist or a resin manufacturing executive, nearly all parties can agree that the U.S. needs to recycle more. Environmentalists and industry people alike see the profound waste in throwing out plastic, especially single-use items that have a useful life measured in minutes. The rub to now has been how to ensure more plastic is recycled and less landfilled.

Over the past week, I saw two potential models: one from my local trash collector and the other in North Carolina. In the case of the former, Waste Connections of Colorado sent out a letter to all its customers this week, explaining that instead of bins, customers would receive a 96-gallon wheeled cart featuring a RFID (radio frequency identification) tag. The tag has a unique number that links the cart to my address, with tag readers attached to the trucks. As the bin is emptied, it’s weighed and the mass of my recyclables is stored to my personal RecycleBank.com account, where I can build up RecycleBank points.

In addition to incentivizing me with RecycleBank points that can be redeemed at more than 400 local and national reward partners (Kraft, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods to name a few), the program simplifies recycling with “single-stream” collection, that is, no sorting (cardboard, aluminum, plastics all together). We’ll see how it goes, but I’m genuinely excited (and not just for my recycle dollars).

Meanwhile, North Carolina announced a program this week banning plastic bottles from the trash. According to a report in the Ashevhille Citizen-Times, the law, which was approved by state lawmakers in 2005, aims to encourage recycling and help supply plastic recyclers with the materials they need. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) will be targeted. According to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, just one in five plastic bottles is recycled in North Carolina, with about 2.4 billion bottles buried in landfills each year.

The state will have the ability to levy fines, but hopes to encourage participation through education. Two likely benefactors in Carolina we’ve reported on of late: Customer Polymers PET and DAK Americas. Those firms look to receive a more reliable stream of bottle waste, and who knows, maybe even hire a few folks to deal with the increased volume.

How’s recycling handled in your neck of the woods; any similar moves by local government to persuade greater collection? — Tony Deligio

TAGS: Business
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